By Carrie Dagenhard (Tech Writer)
Are you reopening your office space? We've done some of the heavy research already and uncovered five crucial tips to ensure a productive and positive return to your workplace.
For the past year and a half, millions of square feet of office space have been sitting unused like some strange homage to pre-pandemic work life. Meanwhile, facilities leaders and business decision-makers have been carefully monitoring trends, vaccination rates, and CDC recommendations, while wringing their hands over when and how to bring their staff back into the office.
Organizations have begun to cautiously reopen their doors to both the delight and disdain of their current remote workforce. How IT leaders manage this transition will significantly impact productivity, employee satisfaction, workforce engagement, and IT MSP operations as a whole.
Here are five tips to help ensure a smooth and painless experience when your team returns to the office:
1. Create an Air-Tight Strategy Before Reopening:
One of the worst mistakes you could make in this phase is moving forward with only a half-baked plan. Without a solid strategy, you’ll risk spreading confusion and creating frustrations (not to mention creating room for misinformation to fester).
Before you officially open your doors to your workforce, share your plan in full and consider holding an all-hands meeting to head off any questions or concerns. Make sure your plan includes:
A Reopening Timeline
Your Stance On Remote vs Hybrid Work Options
Safety And Sanitation Precautions
A Rundown Of New Onsite Processes & Technologies
Where To Go With Any Outstanding Questions
The more information you provide upfront, the more comfortable everyone will feel upon their return — and the fewer headaches management will face.
2. Focus on Flexibility:
We caution against any strict requirements during this phase. After all, your employees have just endured one of the most complicated and challenging experiences in modern history, and many are still concerned about their health and safety. Additionally, it can take people time to arrange childcare and transportation.
Be flexible with your reopening, and consider offering flex hours and hybrid options — at least while people adjust to office life. Demanding everyone return full-time right now could drive top talent toward the door. Nearly 40 percent of employees said they’d quit if they didn’t have the option to continue working from home, according to a May survey.
3. Prepare for Tech Issues:
Even if you do everything possible to prevent them, you can still expect some tech issues to arise as people return to their on-site workspaces. From internet connectivity problems to failing hardware, security threats to new tech learning curves, your IT team will likely be saddled with additional requests in the weeks and months ahead.
Do your best to support them by equipping your teams with the right solutions — like robust ticketing software to manage the influx of support issues. This way, they can move through tickets with ease and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
Additionally, make sure you keep your workforce updated on any security threats, like new phishing schemes designed to exploit reopening confusion.
4. Prioritize Comfort and Safety:
You probably won’t be able to re-create the shoeless, sweatpants-clad, mid-day-nap existence much of your workforce has enjoyed over the past year and a half, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enhance office comforts. For example, now might be the time to adopt a more casual dress code or invest in ergonomic chairs.
Additionally, it’s important to remember that even though much of the country is vaccinated, the pandemic is still ongoing. During this transitionary period, you might consider asking employees to mask up in high-traffic areas like lobbies, elevators, and conference rooms. Additionally, you may set capacity limits for the first few months and only allow a certain percentage of your workforce on-site every day.
No matter what you decide, you must ensure your workspaces are frequently sanitized.
5. Ask For (And Apply) Feedback:
There’s no such thing as a perfect reopening plan — mainly because this is all still uncharted territory. As you bring people back together, you’re likely to run into a few unforeseen challenges. The best thing you can do is to remain patient and ask your workforce to do the same. Additionally, consider fielding surveys and asking employees for their feedback. Then, use that feedback to improve your processes and increase employee satisfaction.
The coming months are still full of uncertainty and new hurdles but, if the past year has proven anything, it’s that we’re highly resilient and adaptable. By doing these five things, you can drive better outcomes for your organization and ensure your workforce feels well-supported.